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WTF! Blog

WORK THE FUTURE! TODAY is a blog about the art of the possible, practiced well in advance. We build trust, inspire belief, and create better tomorrows, today, for forward-facing clients and their communities. We do this through short-term innovation and long-term transformation initiatives guided by the North Star of shared purpose.

CYBER THREATS: ROBOJOBS + FUTURE OF WORK/PLACES

One of the major trends, which blends demographic changes with technology advances, is the onward march towards greater automation in our economy. That’s a fancy way of saying, “The robots are coming”. And they are not just that warm, fuzzy image we have of R2D2.

If you step back and look at the deeper picture this trend is really about the replacement of human labor in all kinds of activities from manufacturing to housekeeping. What started in the late 1970’s as ‘office automation’ is now starting to reach massive proportions. This is one of those high probability, high impact trends.

The question is: how will your community respond so it can remain a healthy, vibrant, and agile place to live and work?

So, How Big is This Trend?

Depends on whom you ask. There are a number of reliable sources, but all estimates are based on assumptions of progress on the technology side. The Institute for the Future thinks that any job that pays in the $20–30,000 range is subject to robotization.

We think a reasonable estimate would be 30% of the current US workforce could be replaced by these technologies. And that is not just factory workers as we usually think. It extends into the ‘back office’, the analysts desk, and anything that meets our definition stated above. Admittedly, the tactical economics of this replacement technology are still being debated but we are early on (say a five year window).

So to sum up, the scope of this labor market evolution, hear is a quote from the staid, old line Harvard Business Review:

“Left behind may be as many as 40 million citizens of no economic value in the U.S. alone. The dislocations will be profound.”
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Brand New PurposeComment
SEISMIC SHIFT: How to go from Old to New Economy?

How to go from Old to New Economy?—Field case studies.

SHIFT HAPPENS:

“Everything is always changing. Everything is connected to everything else. Pay attention” ~ Jane Hirshfield

The reason why this shift from an OLD Story to a NEW Story has seemingly caught so many people off guard is summed up by this Zen quote. Quite simply, most people alive on the planet today have been educated, socialized, and indoctrinated to deny the nature of constant change. We exist without realizing our fundamental connection to everyone and everything. Finally, our busy, noisy, confusing world does not reward paying attention to the here and now. Most live in the nostalgia of days gone by and some others in a fearful fancy of a cloudy future (rehashing and rehearsing). Waking up to what actually is can be a scary thing.

Backstory

Humankind finds itself at a fundamental evolutionary change point. We stand at the edge of a chasm of social change greater than what we have seen in the agricultural, industrial, and technology revolutions. Human society has been constantly evolving and changing: we moved from an oral culture to a print culture to one of mass communication. Now, we are moving into a digital culture.

We are entering a chasm of chaos and confusion. Trust in our social institutions is at an all-time low and anxiety at an all-time high.

The good news is that if you are aware of what’s coming, you can be prepared, and that preparation can mitigate adverse impacts.

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No Future for Futurists 

No Future for Futurists 

Are you going to create your future? Or, are you going to let the future control you?

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

The future isn’t working the way it used to. If you’re not at the driving wheel of your future, then you’ll get run over by the future and be tomorrow’s roadkill.

“When it comes to the future, one word says it all: You never know.” ~ Yogi Berra

We are consumed with the future.

Everywhere we look we see many articles and blogs pontificating on the Future and the Future of Whatever, particularly the Future of Work, which isn’t working. As financial institutions are fond of saying: “Past performance is no indicator of future performance.” In other words, what might have worked in the past, might not in the future. Systems leadership and design is based on now — not the never never of later on.

“Past performance is no indicator of future performance.”

Work The Future! Today is the art of the possible, practiced well in advance.

Work The Future! Today is based on possibility — based on asking and answering the question: “What is it we could do today, starting now?” It is the act of embracing the unknown as an opportunity and taking responsibility for it. Predicting the future is fed by the unknown and the fear of the future, and relying on someone else to take responsibility for it.

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The Future of Work Isn't Working

Work The Future! (WTF!) vs. The Future of Work (FOW):

Are you going to design the future or is it going to design you? Your choice.

This is a long, important story made short and succinct. The way we have looked towards the future the past 150 years is woefully inadequate in the emerging post-industrial global political economy—what is happening to us all, right here and now. It has been a reactive mode of behavior.

That old story is gone. A new story is being born, which will require a proactive stance toward the future for individuals, businesses, and governments. We see it as a shift from the old “Future of (fill in the blank)” to a “Work The Future! Today” (WTF!) standpoint.

Backstory

What do Charles Handy, Charlie Grantham, Tom Malone, and Jacob Morgan have in common. They all wrote a book titled “The Future of Work”. Seems like every ten years or so someone feels the need to re-hash this topic.

Each had its unique focus. Handy on the evolution of large organizational forms. Grantham on the integration of IT/HR/Real Estate processes. Malone on the maturity of information systems. And most recently, Morgan on the need for organizations to adapt themselves to their employees. Each had a kernel of truth and was highly relevant at the time of publication. However, they all were reflections of what we call the OLD Story.

 

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How Culture Can Turn Your Work Space into a Place
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast and operations excellence for lunch and everything else for dinner“ ~ Bill Aulet, MIT 2013

Introduction

Many design articles call for “Engaging workplace design that doesn’t stop with a response to technological and real estate needs. It must go further, supporting the creation and integration of a company’s culture, brand identity, and overall community.”

We’ve taken up that challenge. We want to draw out the distinction between “space”, which is the physical part of the workplace, and “place”, the social aspects of a work environment.

Genesis of the concept

It all begins with “purpose”. What is the purpose of the workplace? What is the purpose of those who perform their work in that place? And how do those two relate to each other? It is our contention that we are currently experiencing a shift in cultural narrative/story from the “Old Story” to a new one.

The purpose of work and where it gets done is changing quickly. We are talking about purpose in the context of work, where many of us find our highest purpose. However, we live in an increasingly purposeless world filled with purposeless work. The Old Story and its attendant social institutions were designed to promote continuous growth. These institutions are no longer life affirming, nor supportive of personal well-being (integration of body, mind, and spirit), let alone human wholeness (integration of individuals into a greater whole).

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